THERE is anxiety in the House of Representatives over the delayed transmission of the Middle Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to the House, Daily Sun has learnt exclusively.
Investigations showed that both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are worried that as at the middle of November, there are still no signs of the Presidency transmitting the MTEF and the 2016 budget to lawmakers.
The Jonathan administration forwarded the 2014-2016 MTEF in October 2013, but presented the 2015 budget late on December 17, 2014.
The delayed presentation of the budget contravenes the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act which stipulates that budget estimates for the next fiscal year shall be presented before the joint session of the National Assembly at least three months to the end of the year.
Already, the non- presentation of the MTEF and next year’s budget has been criticised by the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, who in an exclusive interview with Daily Sun said as far as the legislature was concerned, the Buhari administration was yet to kick off as these two important documents which form the core of legislative duties have not been made available.
He said the continued delay in sending these documents to the National Assembly is not good for the economy, even as it will adversely affect the execution of projects and other key government interventions.
“Look at the budget which is a very important document, has not been sent to the National Assembly. Even the MTEF which should be in the National Assembly by now, according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, has not been sent to us,” Ogor lamented.
On Monday this week, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said at the opening of the National Assembly Dialogue on the Economy, Security and Development that the House wished it has received these documents on time.
Dogara said the prompt delivery of these documents would contribute greatly to government efficiency.
Suggesting the Appropriation Bill be presented by September, Dogara said prompt fowarding of the MTEF and the annual budget formed part of priority areas in the Eighth House of Representatives Legislative Agenda. He noted that when the House receives both documents early, it would make it possible for lawmakers to conduct public hearings on the budget before approval.
He said: “The House further committed itself in specific terms to a review of the budgetary process with emphasis on the following: Promotion of an inclusive budgetary process that seeks the cooperation of the executive in institutionalising pre-budget interface and consultations.
“Revisiting the ‘Constitution amendment passed by the Seventh House mandating the President to submit his budget proposals at least three months before the end of a fiscal year. This is critical in passing annual Appropriation Bill,” he said.